Career Development Programs
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5 Design Tips for Your Company’s Career Development Programs

Thursday, March 3, 2016

This year, Millennials became the largest share of available talent within the American workforce, and will account for more than half of all available workers by 2020, according Pew Research Center. Millennials are also the most mobile generation, with a median turnover of only 1.8 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If your organization is planning on hiring early career talent, our most recent research demonstrates that career development is one of the top three job factors that will both attract and retain early career talent.

Here are some tips for designing your companies’ career development system:

Create a Career Development “Ecosystem”

While traditional career development tools and resources such as career paths and training programs are helpful, successful organizations view career development as part of the culture. A career development “ecosystem” is a variety of career-oriented components that are integrated into a common brand. The components include an established vision with key stakeholders and leaders of what development looks like. This vision should have clear policies, procedures, and practices. This ecosystem also includes a plan for generating passion, quick wins, eliminating obstacles, establishing expectations for frequent coaching, feedback and career conversations, and recognizing and promoting managers who develop people.

Utilize Millennial-Friendly Technology and Tools

When planning and designing the tools and resources for development within your organization, how much do you use mobile learning, self-service portals, bite-sized learning, peer group learning cohorts, gamification, and social media platforms? Millennials use all of these communication channels, so they should be built into the fabric of your company’s career development ecosystem.


Train Employees How to Navigate Their Own Careers

Just because your employees want to work in a role that is aligned with their long-term career aspirations and strengths doesn’t mean that they’ll make the best career choices. Provide guidance and tools such as job-matching assessments, training, coaching, decision making, and manager support.

Consider Lifestyle Aspirations Part of the Career Development Picture


Employees today consider flexibility and social connections high on their list of company attributes for desirable places to work. Evaluate your workplace policies and practices regarding work schedules and telecommuting; turnover research shows that commute times are highly correlated with employee tenure. Creating an environment that encourages team contact and collaboration will also contribute to a Millennial-friendly work experience.

Build a Culture That Is Open to Career Aspirations and Movement

Managers frequently have concerns that if employees are too anxious for promotion or advancement, they will leave their teams or go to the competition. If fact, the opposite is true. Employees typically want to work for managers who are known people developers. In addition, these managers are frequently rewarded by their employees with loyalty because employees are grateful for their career support. Encourage managers to have impromptu career development conversations and ask employees about their career aspirations early in their job tenure. This will increase the likelihood of retaining early career workers.

By recognizing what employees value most in their preferred work environment, you will be able to both attract and retain the best and brightest of this new generation of talent. For more tips, join me for an upcoming online workshop, Essentials of Creating Effective Career Development Programs.

About the Author

B. Lynn Ware is an industrial/organizational psychologist and thought leader who has practiced for more than 25 years in the talent management field. Lynn is CEO of Integral Talent Systems (ITS), whose mission is to bring the science of talent management to the bottom line, thereby enabling ITS’s clients to optimize their organization’s talent investment. Lynn has experience designing, implementing, and measuring a wide variety of integrated talent management solutions in the consumer products, energy, financial services, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and retail industries with companies such as General Motors, Google, LinkedIn, and The Gap. She is frequently quoted on trends in talent management in numerous publications and media outlets, such as the Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, Harvard Business Review, and ComputerWorld magazine, and has been featured several times on CNN as a global talent management expert.

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